Ignoring pleas from believers and threatening to suppress them, the Chinese regime wantonly destroys Buddhist and Taoist temples, loots their assets.
by Yang Xiangwen
The ancient tradition of worshiping and incense burning in Buddhist and Taoist temples has been providing spiritual sustenance for many Chinese people over centuries. But under the current totalitarian rule, more and more people are deprived of this right, as temples are demolished under a variety of pretexts, their property plundered.
400 personnel dispatched to demolish a Taoist temple
On August 23, Zhenkong Taoist Temple in the Yongnian district of Handan city in the northern province of Hebei was forcibly destroyed on orders by the local government, which decreed that the temple “illegally occupied the land.”
An eyewitness recounted that more than 400 government personnel were dispatched that day. All the roads leading to the temple were blocked. A local believer got on his knees to plead with officials who not only refused to listen but also ordered to remove the person from the premises. Another Taoist fainted during altercations with the police while trying to protect the temple.
A local believer told Bitter Winter that the temple was in the process of getting the required government permit, but the authorities forcibly destroyed it instead. After the demolition, they even sold for profit ironware, steel products, stoves, and anything of value they found in the temple.
“Some believers wanted to take back some things from the temple, but the officials did not allow them, saying that these things were all theirs,” he added. “They are simply a gang of bandits.” The believer also revealed that the temple was built with over two million RMB (about $ 280,000), donated by devotees.
Only a pile of useless timber was left after the temple was demolished and its valuables looted by the government. Some believers often come to the place and sit next to the ruins, reluctant to leave, as if comforted by being there.
Rebuilt ancient temple demolished
The history of Bodhi Temple in Jingzhou city in the central province of Hubei spanned for about one thousand years until the Cultural Revolution when it was destroyed, only its gate remained. After China’s opening-up reforms in the 1980s, local people rebuilt the temple.
But the new lease on life for the Buddhist temple was short-lived. In September this year, the Public Security Bureau, Urban Management Bureau, and other government departments jointly ordered to demolish the temple, claiming that its activity permits were fake. A believer in her nineties sat on the ground, crying, willing to sacrifice her life to save the temple. Along with several other believers protecting the temple, the woman was dragged away by government officials, who were threatening “to crush to death” the protestors unless they left.
Soon after, disregarding the cries of elderly believers, the temple was razed to the ground by an excavator. Some Buddhists stayed to burn incense in the ruins of the temple. “The government is so ruthless. I worshiped Bodhisattva here all my life, and it was demolished in a short period. I’ve lost my hope and spiritual sustenance,” an elderly believer said, choking from tears.
“Temple must be demolished! Live anywhere you want.”
On June 17, the local government dispatched more than 100 personnel and brought in several excavators to demolish some of the temples on the grounds that they were “illegal buildings.” Among them, a Buddhist temple, built by a believer in his seventies, including statues inside it, was razed to the ground, along with the believer’s residence nearby. All his belongings were buried under the ruins, resulting in the loss of more than 400,000 RMB (about $ 56,000).
According to an informed source, the believer begged the government to give him a few days to move the statues and his possessions from the buildings, but with no luck. When he asked officials, where he should move after his house is demolished, they replied that this was his problem and he should deal with it himself. “Live anywhere you want,” they admonished the elderly Buddhist.
“This is the same with the central government and all local governments. You have nowhere to address your grievances. If you attempt to, you’ll be arrested and detained for half a month,” the Buddhists lamented.
Local believers were shocked and angered by the government’s disregard for the people. “All officials claim that the government serves the people and that their salaries come from them,” one angered resident commented. “In reality, the Communist Party treats us as enemies and wishes to drive us to death.”